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Tennis! Matchmakers

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Backhands, slices and top spins!
DB-based tennis coach Richard Gordon shares his top tips with Rachel Sadler

PHOTOS BY Richard Gordon & Stephane Fasbender

TO GET A SERVE LIKE FEDERER, you need to master the ball toss. This, paired with good timing, will promote consistency and allow you to determine the ball’s ‘flight path’ – the ball toss is a skill in itself. The arm movement should be relaxed and loose, and the power actually originates from the feet and moves up through the body – it’s all about ‘biomechanics.’ For a top spin, slice or flat serve, you need to adjust your arm movement.

SPEED, SUPPLENESS AND STAMINA are all important skills in tennis. The ball can move very fast, particularly now with the new racket technology. You need good ball-eye coordination – the ability to track a fast-moving ball and react quickly to it is key. Stretching out for a wide backhand requires players to be supple. In long matches, the player with the most stamina is often the winner.

TO IMPROVE YOUR BACKHAND, practice, practice, practice! Backhands, whether single or double handed, start slightly below the ball – you should hit and then follow through after the ball, with the racket head finishing above shoulder height. Hitting the ball out in front of the body and having good timing are all key skills to master. Once the basic are in place you then can add spin and slice.

CORE STRENGTH IS ESSENTIAL because the core is used to stabilise, increase momentum and provide power. This can be seen in an explosive forehand – the shot starts with the feet, the power travels up through the body to the core where torque is added, and then the power is released out through the shoulders and arms and into to the racket swing. You can strengthen core muscles in the gym and incorporate lunge exercises to make sure you are quick on your feet.

Tennis Fitness August

TO GET YOUR HEAD IN THE MATCH free your mind and keep your heart rate down. Tensing up your body affects the smoothness of your swing. If you make an error the best thing you can do is forget about the mistake and turn it around. Having strong mental awareness is important for staying focused, and sometimes you will have to think two or three shots ahead of yourself. Tennis is a very tactical sport.

TO STAY MOTIVATED set attainable goals. In tennis you can improve very rapidly and then hit a plateau, so you need to adjust your goals regularly in order to feel successful

PLAYING SOME OTHER SPORTS CAN HELP. A volleyball serve is similar to a tennis serve, and in golf, you transfer your bodyweight through the ball, like you do in tennis. Yoga helps with suppleness.

TENNIS IMPPROVES MENTAL HEALTH and wellbeing. Running around a court you release endorphins, the feel-good chemical produced by the body during exercise, and you’re outdoors, where you can top up on some much-needed vitamin D. Tennis can be tailored to suit the individual player, you can play hard for improved fitness or you can play easy and simply enjoy it

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